We will be traveling to Eastern Europe next year. We will be visiting Ljubljana and Sofia among other cities and areas. We are trying to decide which of the two cities deserve an extra day/night. Our interests are history, historic buildings including churches/cathedrals, classic art and dining on unique ethnic foods.
"Extra" as in two rather than one, or "extra" as in four rather than three?
Slovenia as a whole and Ljubljana in particular are easy, relatively westernized, places to visit. There's interesting architecture, good food, etc. There are some art museums that might interest you. The historic core is highly walkable. Bled is a very easy side-trip from Ljubljana.
Bulgaria is more different from western Europe, and if you like off-the-beaten-path destinations, now would be a good time to go. That said, research for my trip to the Balkans last year led me to spend most of my Bulgarian time in other cities. I only had one night in Sofia--a necessity on my way to Montenegro. Sofia is far larger than Ljubljana, and I didn't find the local equivalent of Ljubljana's old town (if there is one). Sofia has some interesting churches, but I thought Plovdiv and Veliko Trnovo were more attractive cities.
Overall, it was my impression that the food in Bulgaria wasn't as varied as that offered in Slovenia, but Sofia's the capital city and I'm sure there were more sophisticated options than I noticed.
I visited both cities. Liked Ljubljana better. It seemed to me that Ljubljana has more historic buildings. Sofia impressed me as more modern with a lot of architecture from communist times. Unique ethnic foods: Bulgarian food is certainly more exotic for us. A lot of kinds of vegetable. Slovenian food is more similar to Austrian than in other parts of former Yugoslavia.
Ljubljana is a favorite of mine while Sofia is very interesting. They are very different cities, but both offer so much. Which one might you be able to visit in the future versus now? Have you searched this website and elsewhere to compare and contrast?
Jim, please ask again in a while. I will be in Sofia for a few days in early September, and then in Ljubljana for a few days in late September. Happy travels, first to me, then to you!